In this Nov. 22 letter E-mailed to United Church of God elders, Roy Holladay,
president of the United Church of God, discussed many issues that we feel would
benefit our subscribers.
by Roy Holladay
It has been more than a year since the world, and especially the United
States, received the rude awakening that we now simply call "9/11."
While there were political, military and economic tensions before the events of
that day, the collapse of the World Trade Center towers and the attack on the
Pentagon provoked a new level of unrest, changing passive confrontation between
Western nations and supporters of terrorism into active conflict.
As we watch world affairs (Matthew 16:1-3) and maintain a sober vigilance of our
spiritual condition (Mark 13:32-37; Luke 12:35-40), it is important that we
realize the impact of such events and what they could mean for the future, in
light of biblical prophecy.
The price for the tragedy of Sept. 11, 2001, has been high& and it continues to
rise. Here are some of the costs of this one event:
The estimated losses for New York City in 2002 will be
The estimated losses for the state of New York in 2002
will also be $1.6 billion.
Combined estimated losses for the city and state in
2003 will be approximately $5.8 billion.
Airlines have absorbed billions of dollars in losses
during the past 14 months.
A newly released report estimates that the cost to the
U.S. national economy of these terrorist attacks will reach $639.3 billion,
with a loss of two million jobs. Financial damage will be at least twice
that of Hurricane Andrew in 1992, the previous most costly U.S. disaster.
All of this from the precisely targeted terrorist attacks
of 9/11! What would be the results if several more coordinated attacks occurred
at key military and financial locations?
The Bible warns us that times will certainly become worse before we see a
turnaround with the return of Christ. Jesus stated in Matthew 24:6-8, "You
will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all
these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise
against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines,
pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of
sorrows." Paul wrote Timothy that "perilous" or stressful times
would come (2 Timothy 3:1).
The sniper attacks in the Washington, D.C., area also had their negative effects
in creating an environment of fear and panic in that area. Again, what would
happen if there were coordinated sniper attacks in many big cities, airports,
schools and public buildings? Air traffic would shut down. Schools would close.
People would be afraid to go about their daily business. The possible economic
effects would be staggering.
Daniel foretold a time of trouble "such as never was since there was a
nation" (Daniel 12:1). In Jeremiah 30:4-7 we read of Jacob's trouble, that
there will never be a time like it. Modern-day Israel& primarily the United
States and Britain but also all the descendants of the scattered tribes& are
heading to a time of increasing calamity. Perhaps in the events of recent months
we are beginning to get a clearer picture of how that might take place. We may
be seeing the beginning of Jacob's trouble.
Leviticus 26 remains an important chapter of the Bible to consider as we observe
world events. In this chapter, God lists the blessings that Israel would receive
for obeying Him& and the curses if it did not. The blessings are generous, and
we in the United States and other Western countries have been the recipients of
the promises to Abraham.
Verses 3-4, 6 and 8 read as follows: "If you walk in My statutes and keep
My commandments, and perform them, then I will give you rain in its season, the
land shall yield its produce, and the trees of the field shall yield their
fruit... I will give peace in the land, and you shall lie down, and none will
make you afraid...Five of you shall chase a hundred, and a hundred of you shall
put ten thousand to flight; your enemies shall fall by the sword before
Prosperity comes when a nation follows God. We will reap what we have sown.
In the United States, we recently celebrated the national holiday of
Thanksgiving. The early settlers realized that the bounty and blessings they
were able to enjoy were because of God's hand. This observance is an annual
reminder that every good thing comes from God. Of course, we as Christians know
we need to thank God on a regular basis, remembering His mercy and gifts to us.
As our ways please Him, those blessings will continue& individually and
nationally. An important part of us remembering God is to thank Him for what He
has given us personally and collectively as a nation.
We also have much to be grateful for spiritually. Certainly the promise of the
Kingdom gives us reassurance and a confident outlook, despite the troubling
times in which we live. The Kingdom of God will eventually replace all kings and
national governments (Daniel 2:31-45; 7:13-18, 22, 26-27) and we will be
directly involved in that Kingdom! In the meantime, we have the privilege (Mark
16:15-16) of bringing hope to others that& despite the current traumas&
time is coming, and will last for eternity.
Continuing in Leviticus 26, we read that curses follow disobedience. We read the
following later in the chapter: "But if you do not obey Me, and do not
observe all these commandments...I will even appoint terror over you, wasting
disease and fever which shall consume the eyes and cause sorrow of heart. And
you shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it. I will set My
face against you, and you shall be defeated by your enemies. Those who hate you
shall reign over you, and you shall flee when no one pursues you...
"I will break the pride of your power; I will make your heavens like iron
and your earth like bronze. And your strength shall be spent in vain; for your
land shall not yield its produce, nor shall the trees of the land yield their
fruit" (Leviticus 26:14, 16-17, 19-20).
In areas of health, economics, weather and military strength, people will suffer
if not obedient to God. As we have seen with the events of Sept. 11, 2001, a
catastrophe in one area can produce domino effects in other areas.
Let us consider for a moment the phrase, "You shall flee when no one
pursues you." We may have asked ourselves in the past how this could happen&
in the United States with the strongest military in the world. The terrorist and
sniper attacks in the past months have given us a possible answer. Even though
no army was threatening America's borders, people in America's capital were
afraid to do their normal travel for a period of time. Again& what would happen
with multiple attacks in sensitive areas?
There are a couple of other aspects that we as Christians need to be aware of
from such events. One is the fragility of our society. For all of the economic
might of the Western world, it is also fragile. Just a few events could send our
economy into a tailspin. It would not take much for the world to experience a
full-blown economic and military crisis.
Another is how quickly major changes can come. "For when they say, ëPeace
and safety!' then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a
pregnant woman. And they shall not escape" (1 Thessalonians 5:3). Literally
within minutes on Sept. 11, the world became a different place. It behooves us
to always be watchful and ready (verses 4-8).
Other headlines underline the fact that we are living in times of stress, and
that any number of events could trigger a major crisis on the world scene. Some
recent ones are:
"FBI Warns of Risk of al-Qaida Attack."
"U.S. Braces for Execution Reprisals."
"Europeans Warn of Terror Attacks."
"Russia Says Nuclear Material Missing."
Another trend to be aware of in these events is religious
tension. Fanatical fervor in the name of Islam has been behind most of the
terrorist activity. These include the events of Sept. 11, the later attempt to
blow up a U.S. airliner, the shootings at the Los Angeles airport, the hostage
crisis in a Moscow theater, the bombing of a French tanker and the bombing of a
nightclub in Bali.
Obviously these were extremists, performing radical acts. However, conflicts
between Jews, Christians and Muslims have a long history that has been more or
less active in the 20th century. With the Middle East, especially Jerusalem,
home to some of the most sacred sites of all three beliefs, we can expect to
continue to see strife and violence in the name of religion.
In our lifetime, most religious armed conflict in the Middle East has not
directly involved Christianity. Is that trend in the process of changing? On
Oct. 18, 2002, the Charisma News Service reported that a leading Muslim cleric
from Iran had called for the death of Jerry Falwell, Franklin Graham and Pat
The Catholic World News reported on Nov. 11, 2002: "Vatican
officials point out, however, that there were credible threats of an
assassination against the [pope] in 1995, when he visited the Philippines for
World Youth Day.
Officials acknowledge that U.S. intelligence agents warned of an al-Qaida plan
directed by Osama bin Laden, prompting tight security precautions." How
would Europe, South America and other heavily Catholic countries react if such
an attempt were ever successful?
Speaking of Europe, the terrorist events of the last several months have widened
the philosophical gap between America and its (for now) European allies. Europe,
especially Germany, is nervous about America's desire to remove Saddam Hussein
with force. In fact, in recent German national elections, Chancellor Schröder
made it his election platform that Germany would not support an invasion of
In the November 2002 World News and Prophecy, Melvin Rhodes wrote an
insightful article titled "The Coming Clash Between Europe and
America." Mr. Rhodes highlighted key facts in current U.S.-European
relations, including Europe's distrust of America's foreign policy, trade
disputes and Europe's criticism of America's environmental practices. Many
Europeans chafe over the military and economic might of the United States,
realizing that there is not much they can do about it.
All of these are just initial indicators of stress between these two powers. We
read in Revelation 17:12-14 about a coming beast-power, and nations giving their
power to the beast. We don't know when that will occur in its final form, but
clearly, the foundation is taking shape.
What does all of this mean for you and me? The Scriptures give us direction as
we head into these unsettling times (emphasis added throughout).
Revelation 3:10-11: "Because you have kept My
command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial
which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.
Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may
take your crown."
Luke 21:34-36: "But take heed to yourselves, lest
your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this
life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly. For it will come as a
snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch
therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all
these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of
Matthew 24:32-33, 44, 46: "Now learn this parable
from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth
leaves, you know that summer is near. So you also, when you see all these
things, know that it is near, at the doors!...Therefore you also be
ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not
expect...Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes, will
find so doing."
Above all, we need to be close to our Heavenly Father in
prayer. We need to pray that His Kingdom will come soon (Matthew 6:10). We need
to pray that we will be able to do the work of the Church in peace, for as long
as He wills (1 Timothy 2:1-4). We need to pray for the strength and perseverance
to endure the times that are coming upon this world. God has promised us
protection, and we will receive that deliverance by remaining dedicated to Him
and seeking first His Kingdom.
The great news, of course, that we always emphasize is that after these terrible
events, Jesus Christ will return to rule the earth! That is the only real hope
for mankind, and that is our confidence and joy as we observe world events. May
God speed the day of Christ's coming and the establishment of His government on